Readers respond to "G.I. George, Action President!" by David Hyde, and "The Not-So-Great Debate" by Joan Walsh.

By Salon Staff

Published September 13, 2003 9:05PM (EDT)

[Read "G.I. George, Action President!" by David Hyde.]

In his article on the action figure of Bush in a flight suit, David Hyde quotes Mark Katz as wondering whether any other sitting president had appeared in public in military attire. I asked that same question back in June on the History News Network, a Web site for historians.

The answer seems to be no, except for George Washington's largely symbolic leadership of the force sent against the whiskey rebels. For the question, a partisan attack on the question, and some scholarly replies, go here and scroll down.

-- Robert Mutch

I know that paintings of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 have Washington on horseback in a uniform, but I do not know if these representations are later exaggerations of the event, or if Washington actually did lead the troops in uniform.

Regardless, it is quite telling that no subsequent commander-in-chief dared to blend the military and civilian roles.

-- Michael Tuck

As much as I admire a president who is willing to suit up for a dangerous wartime mission off the shores of San Diego, I am going to wait for the forthcoming "elite" action figures: U.S. soldiers.

Sold in bulk, accessories will include tiny little flags to drape over tiny little coffins (each sold separately). Cost: $100 billion and counting.

-- Teresa Dippery

I'm dying to know -- are the folks at Blue Box offering additional outfits for G.I. George -- sold separately, of course? He can't wear that flight suit for every occasion, and I would love to be able to dress George up in alternate dictator/poseur garb. The distinctive headgear of a Qaddafi or Arafat, or the olive drab of Castro; maybe a toga for some frat-boy fun (and who could object to an unobtrusive laurel wreath to complete the ensemble)?

Accessories should be available, too -- a six-pack of alcohol-free beer, golf gear, a Yale banner. If all goes well, they soon could be marketing the G.I. George mobile command center, and maybe the Young G.I. George authentic replica of a Yale dorm room, complete with a collection of Skull and Bones buddies and their very own wardrobe selections. I know I'm taking a hard look at my holiday gift list -- this could take care of at least half of it.

-- Mary Anne Mayo

Afraid to satirize Mr. Bush? It isn't satire that those who viscerally despise this president seek; it's the opportunity to flat out express their hatred. How did U.S. citizens come to hate their nation's leader? Do the people who hold parties each year to celebrate the death of Richard Nixon belong to this group? Satire my ass. You are far too kind to yourselves.

The author seems to think that a figure in a USAF flight suit is dressed up "like some third-world despot." That's just the trouble with you folk, you appear to champion everyone from the "soldiers" of Hamas to our fair-weather friends, the French and Germans.

Golly, have you ever considered trying to support the U.S.? Or is that uncool in your crowd?

-- Peter Santori

[Read "The Not-So-Great Debate" by Joan Walsh.]

I think Joan Walsh has hit the nail on the head. If Sens. Kerry, Gephardt, et al. had asked the questions about the plans for the Iraq war before casting their vote, and stood firm until the answers were forthcoming, maybe there would have been no war. If the point of a congressional vote is to debate, ask questions, get answers, and consider many different viewpoints and alternative approaches and so on -- then each and every senator who voted in favor of the war is tainted. They did not faithfully and conscientiously discharge their duty. They voted the easy way, did not do their homework, did not vote with their conscience.

They are like teenagers, succumbing to peer pressure and making choices for their short-term, immediate gratification -- long-term consequences be damned. We thought these were our leaders, sometimes misguided perhaps, but never intentionally so. Now we know better.

So, while I am an early and committed supporter of the Dean campaign, count me out of supporting the other candidates with even a fraction of that energy.

-- Nandini Pandya

In "The Not So Great Debate" Joan Walsh dismisses Democratic presidential contender with the offhand comment:

"... Kucinich doesn't seem to expect to be president. Anyone who does knows we can't pull out [of Iraq] now."

I find it ironic that Walsh -- and so many others -- seemingly ignores evidence right in front of their faces. As anyone who has seen Kucinich will attest, Kucinich not only expects to be president; he's planning on it.

-- Matt Harris

Shame on Joan Walsh for parroting the conventional wisdom, conveniently put forward by neocon apologists, that Democrats were weaselly and politically motivated in their support for the Iraq resolution in Congress. If she had read James Rubin's brilliant analysis in the latest "Foreign Affairs," she'd know that there's a strong and persuasive case to be made for differentiating between Kerry/ Lieberman/ Hillary's support for the war, and the Bush cabal's arrogant, dishonest, and ultimately disastrous prosecution of it.

Through interviews with Hans Blix and scores of other diplomats, Rubin uncovers tales of incompetence and bullying that deserve a wider audience and that present a compelling argument for the pro-war/ anti-Bush Democrats.

As Rubin notes, Bush's shifting justifications for the war led our allies to question American motives and conclude that Bush would never accept Saddam's peaceful disarmament.

He also notes the absolute arrogance of Bush's refusal to delay even for few weeks in order to allow the Brits and our other allies to craft a compromise second resolution, leaving his "good friend" Tony Blair out to dry, as we're seeing now. Finally, Rubin quotes numerous U.N. diplomats who excoriate the Bush team's arrogant and imperious style -- and their contempt for existing international treaties -- as the final nail in the coffin of international cooperation in Iraq.

If the Democrats can't make a case that, even if the war was worth doing, Bush's handling of it doesn't live up to the ideals of the U.S. or our real-world needs for international cooperation in this war on terror, then they don't deserve to unseat him.

-- Rick Freedman

What appeals to the Democratic base about both Dean and Clark are not their positions on Iraq per se, but the fact that both of them had the backbone to criticize the administration last spring before it was cool. That both men were willing to dissent in a prevailing public atmosphere of unthinking jingoism shows they have courage and strength of character.

The backbone factor hurts Kerry and Edwards, who may well have honestly supported the war, but who appear now to have been playing it safe. The feeling goes: If they aren't willing to stand up to Bush and Fox News, why should we think they could lead the country?

Shocking as it may seem, that's what Democrats are looking for these days. I'm pretty sure both pro- and antiwar Democrats would punch a Clark-Dean or Dean-Clark ticket.

OK, being fair, they might punch a Mickey Mouse-Donald Duck ticket right now. What the snark brigade of political pundits don't seem to get ... when they meditate on Dean voters versus Clark voters, antiwar liberals and pro-Iraq moderates ... is that the bulk of Democrats will vote the "Anybody But Bush" ticket in November 2004.

-- Angeli Primlani \

Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------